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Butler SWCD office
Dust bowl


Butler SWCD History

In the early 1940s residents of Butler County concerned with conservation petitioned to organize a local Soil and Water Conservation District and, in May of 1942, the Butler SWCD was established.


A subdivision of the state of Ohio, the district is funded in part by the Butler County Board of Commissioners with a state match from the Ohio Department Agriculture, Division of Soil and Water Conservation. The Butler SWCD office is located in Hamilton, OH, and employs a small staff of varying backgrounds and experience. The office also houses employees of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and the Farm Services Agency (FSA). Together these agencies are able to administer federal funding and cost sharing to local farmers who are implementing conservation practices on their land.


The Butler SWCD staff is directed by an independently elected Board of Supervisors and provides free urban and agricultural technical assistance and natural resource education to Butler County residents.


To find out more about our main partners, please visit:

  • Butler County Commissioners

  • Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources: Division of Soil and Water Resources

  • Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts

  • Natural Resource Conservation Service National Site and  Ohio's Site

  • Farm Service Agency

Dust Bowl
Historic Butler County
Historic farming in Butler County
History of Soil and Water Conservation Districts

Documentation throughout the early history of the United States demonstrates that soil erosion has been a consistent concern. The earliest settlers and scientists recognized human influence on erosion; however, little was done to correct land management practices. Below is a timeline of key events for soil conservation.


  • During the United States’ Civil War several texts and documents described streams and rivers choked with large amounts of sediment from poorly managed agricultural lands. It was common for land owners to move further west once their cropland productivity had diminished.

  • In the early twentieth century, a number of writers warned of the severe long-term problems confronting the nation because of the persistent erosion of croplands and advocated government programs to educate farmers and persuade them to change their methods.

  • In 1928 Bennett’s work, “Soil Erosion, A National Menace” was published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) (Patrick, 1961).

  • In 1929 the first recognition of soil erosion and its effects by the United States government occurred when Congress enacted the Buchanan Amendment to the Agricultural Appropriation Bill. This Bill appropriated $160,000 to the USDA for the investigation of erosion and its impacts to the soil of the United States (ODNR, 2001).

  • In May of 1934 the largest dust storm in United States’ recorded history “swept eastward from the Great Plains to the Atlantic Ocean, obscuring the sun and depositing obvious films of dust as it moved” (ODNR, 2001). The Natural Resources Conservation Service has a great powerpoint with images of the dust bowl .

  • The Roosevelt Administration established the federal Soil Erosion Service (SES) in the Department of Interior to create jobs and deal with a great natural resource problem (Peterson, 2002).

  • In 1935 the SES became the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) within USDA with the enactment of the Soil Conservation Act of 1935, Public Law No. 46 (ODNR, 2001).

  • The establishment of the SCS marked the beginning of federal funding and natural resource education to landowners, especially farmers. However, inherent difficulties surfaced with the direct relationship of the federal government and local landowners. A resolution was passed to allow the states to establish state soil conservation agencies and procedures whereby local Soil and Water Conservation Districts could be formed (ODNR, 2001).

  • In Ohio on May 16, 1941 the 94th General Assembly passed House Bill 646, or the Ohio Soil Conservation District Enabling Act, which created the Ohio Soil Conservation Committee (OSCC) as an agency of the State of Ohio. The Act also established procedures for the formation of local Soil Conservation Districts and the election of local Boards of Supervisors and defined the authorities and responsibilities of local District Boards (ODNR, 2001).

  • The focus of the Soil Conservation Districts’ programs remained mainly agricultural for many years until many urbanizing counties began to recognize the impacts of residential and other urban and suburban development to soil erosion and started addressing issues such as water conservation, watershed management, and stream protection (ODNR, 2001).


Today SWCDs continue to serve as the community liaison and program administrators for agricultural resource conservation services outlined in the federally mandated Farm Bill (ODNR, 2001). They also provide technical assistance on urban drainage issues, assist in the regulation of local development ordinances, and assist in the administration of the Six Minimum Control Measures (MCMs) outlined in the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II Stormwater program.

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